Packed To The Rafters: articles

Jessica McNamee

Time to bring on the biff ... Jessica McNamee's promise to Rebecca Gibney's character in the new series of Packed To The Rafters.

Jessica McNamee to smash her Packed To The Rafters' good-girl image

TIRED of playing nice for more than two years, Jessica McNamee is longing to stick the boot into Rebecca Gibney.

Sure, she's one of TV's bestloved mums, but McNamee says her Packed to the Rafters co-star has it coming.

"It's time I had a bit of a beef with Rebecca; any normal person would want to kill their mother-in-law if they lived under the same roof with them for years," McNamee laughs.

"It's time for a bit of biff with the mother-in-law." Though she won't get a chance to catfight with Gibney this season, McNamee promises that the latest series of Rafters — which launched last night — will finally give her a chance to unleash her dark side — a side which is perhaps a little closer to the real McNamee than the eversmiling doormat she has played since the show began.

"I have finally got to show a different side to me — which is refreshing for me as an actor and also refreshing for the audience," she says.

"I am so different to Sammy it's not funny. I would never put up with the sorts of things that she has." So keen is she to shirk her nice-girl image that McNamee uses her production breaks to play characters completely removed from her Rafters persona — starring as a disturbed gothic girl and a prostitute in two films.

Showing viewers she was more than just a pretty face was also a factor in her decision to compete on the last series of Dancing with the Stars.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do Dancing was that I'm such a straight-laced character on Rafters," McNamee says. "People came up to me (after appearing on Dancing) and said 'I didn't know you had a sense of humour'.

"Any opportunity I get to do something a bit different — a bit controversial — I grab." Even on Rafters, though, McNamee is not a stranger to controversy.

Last year she and co-star Angus McLaren (who plays husband, Nathan Rafter) made headlines for a sexually explicit scene where she walks in on him masturbating. The episode also featured a fairly racy bondage fantasy.

Fans were outraged that the family drama had become too raunchy for its timeslot. The TV watchdog agreed and ruled that Seven had breached the code for airing the PG-rated episode in its timeslot.

Given Rafters has regularly tackled adult themes such as abortion, drug use and domestic violence, McNamee is surprised this episode raised so many eyebrows.

She suspects the offending episode was viewed more critically because it involved McLaren's character — widely disliked by viewers — rather than Hugh Sheridan's muchloved character Ben.

"It was actually quite awkward to film that particular (masturbation) scene," she says. "I mean, Angus is like my second boyfriend.

"After you've made out on a bed with someone or simulated sex scenes together with 50 people watching, you get pretty comfortable with each other. But seeing him do that was embarrassing.

"And I understand why some people were upset by it.

One of my family friends said their child asked 'What was he doing?' after seeing that scene.

I think it led to some awkward conversations being had in people's homes." McNamee says she's had a few awkward moments herself as a Rafters viewer.

She felt mildly embarrassed watching the show with her parents and boyfriend.

"After all, watching a sex scene on the TV with your dad can be embarrassing enough at the best of times, but it's worse still if you're the one in it." McNamee says Rafters has been a great apprenticeship.

"You couldn't have better people to watch and learn from."

By Siobhan Duck
June 30, 2010
The Daily Telegraph